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Tips from my Book

"Hives, Headaches & Heartburn"

1. Diet


Keep in Mind:

Histamine Intolerance (HIT) is an indication that you have developed too much histamine, not a sensitivity to histamine itself. This means that rebalancing your histamine level is the goal, not eliminating histamine completely.

There is an incredibly wide spectrum of histamine reactions from mild issues to chronic or severe reactions. The former group may only need to taper back on the top histamine offenders, whereas the latter may need to be more strict, but not to the point of compromising their nutrient intake.

Short term, reducing histamine foods can help lower inflammation, alleviate suffering, and provide a foundation to start healing. ~1-3 weeks is usually effective in my experience. 

Long-term, however, the goal is to address your root cause and support the overall health of your body. 

Histamine levels in food are often related to the quality, processing, storage time and method, and age (of the food) rather than the food itself, so choose high quality, unprocessed, very fresh foods. Frozen foods can be just as good if the food was fresh when frozen and with proper storage.

There are many low histamine diet (LHD) food lists available, but with little consistency. However, the top offenders remain the same and have been used here. Not every possible food has been included to prevent focusing too much on restricting your diet. However, a more comprehensive list is here for those interested. 

You will likely also have your own unique dietary trigger(s), regardless of their histamine level. This could be due to a specific allergy to the food. You may already know these or may uncover them through careful diet tracking. Keeping a food log is very helpful! Tracking your lifestyle (eg sleep, stress level, intense exercise) as well as environment (eg sudden weather or elevation changes, pollen level, cigarette smoke exposure) will all further help you understand what is irritating your body's immune system.

Avoid blood sugar imbalances by avoiding sugary foods and the like is key to healing. Also try to avoid intense hunger which can be stressful to the body.

While avoiding high histamine foods, first limit foods which are unhealthy (eg processed foods) then, if needed, healthy ones. For example, avoid orange juice before oranges.

The longer a food is stored, the more histamine it contains. Don’t let foods sit out.

Read food ingredient labels on the back of packages. 

Avoid These:

  • Junk food/ processed foods. Generally, the more processed the food (longer time in the factory) the more inflammatory.

  • Alcohol (especially red wine, champagne and other fermented alcohols)

  • Aged cheeses

  • Artificial preservatives (eg BHA, BHT, benzoates, sulfites)

  • Artificial dyes (eg tartrazine/ FD&C yellow #5, also found in some medications and supplements)

  • Artificial flavors (eg MSG or other glutamates) 

  • Leftovers, spoiled foods, foods with any trace of mold

  • Cured meats (salami, sausage, hot dogs) 

  • Pickled foods (eg pickles, olives) and some condiments

  • Preserved foods

  • Smoked foods

  • Sugary foods and drinks - Sugar feeds unwelcome yeast and bacteria which can cause gut damage 

  • Refined carbs (eg white flour)

  • Energy drinks

  • Fermented foods (eg sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, soy sauce, yogurt)

  • Foods you know give you a reaction such as a specific allergy to peanuts

  • Low fat diets; go for healthy fats

  • Dehydration. Drink plenty of clean water

  • Cow’s milk and products 

  • Gluten (eg wheat, rye, etc)

  • Fermented teas, black and green

  • Eggplant, spinach, tomatoes and tomato products, and avocado

  • Yeast, yeast extracts (eg Marmite, Vegemite), and yeast products (eg breads, pastries)

  • Dried fruits (eg raisins, prunes, dates, some trail mixes)

  • Overripe foods (eg, squishy or brown avocados) 

  • Some spices: cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, etc.

  • Many lists also include the following foods, but reactivity is individual: Citrus (oranges, mandarins), papaya, pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, pumpkin, soy, potatoes, lentils, beans (pulses), chocolate, cocoa, and some nuts

Add These For Nutrient-Rich Eating 

  • Fresh, unprocessed foods. For example, choose fresh grapes over raisins. 

  • Enjoy whole, fresh veggies and fruits which naturally contain phytonutrients to quench inflammation. 

  • SOUL foods - Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, and Local (Dr. Ed Bauman). 

  • Fresh foods, or consider freezing immediately after harvesting or preparing. 

  • Vitamin C rich foods - berries, apples, broccoli, onions, and dandelion greens. 

  • Vitamin B2 rich foods - mushrooms, asparagus, eggs, and almonds. 

  • Vitamin B6 rich foods - cabbage, cauliflower, sweet potato, liver, salmon.

  • Magnesium-rich foods - leafy greens, almonds and dark chocolate, if tolerated.

  • Copper rich foods - nuts and seeds, shiitake and crimini mushrooms, if tolerated.

  • Zinc-rich foods - nuts and seeds, meats, shellfish (if tolerated).

  • Omega-3 rich foods - wild, cold-water, Frozen At Sea (FAS) or very fresh fish such as salmon and halibut. Also freshly-ground flaxseed and chia seeds. 

  • Quality oils - organic, expeller-pressed extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil. Note: Whole avocados may not be tolerated, but the oil is usually tolerated. Remember to store your oils in a dry, cool place away from light. Before you use them, take a whiff and toss any oils with hints of rancidity.

  • Plenty of other histamine-lowering foods which often contain quercetin and other antioxidants.

Strengthen Digestion: Enhance nutrient absorption with strong digestion. Here’s how:

  • Consider trying digestive enzymes just before meals 

  • Chew, chew, chew, and chew 

  • Stimulate digestion by eating dandelion leaves, artichokes, or a squeeze of lemon (if tolerated) in your water before a meal. 

  • Be mindful. Sit down and take it slow when you eat. Rest to digest. 

  • Don’t overeat. Stop when you’re 80% full.

Eating and Cooking Tips:

  • Avoid late night eating. Histamine levels peak during the night.

  • Cook your own meals using the freshest ingredients.

  • Avoid frying or grilling foods since these methods of cooking may increase histamine levels. Boiling or steaming may be better. 

  • Slow cooking has many health benefits but in your early phases of healing may tip the balance towards high histamine levels. However, you can still enjoy your bone broth if cooked using low histamine methods, such as in a pressure cooker for a shorter time. 

  • Emphasize foods that are as close to their original form as possible (eg grapes over raisins)

  • Rinse foods to remove any potential histamine buildup due to bacteria growth as well as remove any chemicals.

  • Be diligent about storing foods correctly to prevent microbial growth or rancidity. You can even keep your cooking oils, nuts, seeds, etc in the fridge.

  • Track everything you eat and note the time/dates of any symptoms but don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up; stress is a huge histamine trigger.

Histamine Helpful Foods List

(currently updating)

  • Basil

  • Cilantro

  • Turmeric

  • Ginger

  • Apples
    (more coming soon)

Note:  All foods contain an array of factors, some of which may be aggravating to other conditions. An example of this is stone fruit (eg peaches, nectarines, plums) in people with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Stone fruit feed the microbial overgrowth and ultimately add to the level of histamine. In the case of SIBO, a low FODMAP diet is a suggested.



2. Lifestyle (currently updating)

3. Environment (currently updating)

Keep in mind:

  • HEPA air filter

  • Water filter

  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke

  • Avoid smoke from wildfires, if possible
    (more coming soon)

4. Supplements, if needed (currently updating)

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